Now, commercials without interruption

Times Staff Writer

As award shows go, it skews understated. There will be no dramatic speeches or Swarovski-encrusted mementos -- just a few words of introduction followed by 90 minutes of the most delectable TV advertisements 2005 had to offer.

The Assn. of Independent Commercial Producers will honor the artistry of its members tonight at its annual show, held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Organizers promise the event will be classic L.A.: Industry folks keeping casual in high-end flip-flops, food by Patina and portraits by Hockney.

The event is open to the public with tickets set at $200 for nonmembers (available at www.aicp.comor [323] 960-4763).

The collection of ads, titled "The Art & Technique of the American Commercial," sweeps dozens of 30- to 90-second spots out from under the shadow of regularly scheduled programming and heralds their excellence in categories such as cinematography, production, music and performance.

Although the creative forces behind commercials are never as publicized as feature films, big-name directors often sit at the helm of major ad productions, said Steven Caplan, the association's executive vice president.

This year, director Spike Jonze, whose roster of films includes "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation," snagged four nods for "Hello Tomorrow," a dreamy sequence for Adidas -- queue a lullaby-like melody and a restless man. As he rolls out of bed and into his shoes, we get a tight shot of the sneakers. They lace themselves before their owner jumps into a black abyss. After a graphically delicious jaunt through several alternate realities, the jogger climbs back into bed. "Impossible is nothing," the ad reads.

Past honorees include documentarian Errol Morris and mocumentarian Christopher Guest.

MJZ, a production company with offices in L.A., New York and London, led the pack with a nine awards in seven categories. Its EBay spot, recognized for production design, shows the word "it" taking various forms -- a ball, an engagement ring, a car -- in rapid succession, punctuated by the tagline, "Whatever it is, you can get it on EBay."

A Biscuit Filmworks pick, tapped for the production category, takes us to a cityscape where a snarling, reptilian monster is smashing its way through the streets. Just then, the beast encounters a giant robot. The machine's eyes flash red. It's love at first sight. The couple lie under the stars and stroll hand in hand until, moments later, we see the fruit of their union: a shiny red Hummer.

Association member production companies account for about 85% of all commercials worldwide, 43% of which are shot in Los Angeles, Caplan said.

The organization will continue the ad collection's six-month international tour in Minneapolis, San Francisco, Dallas, Miami and Chicago before landing in its final resting place: the archive at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

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